Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Estate Planning for Children with Special Needs

Estate Planning for Children with Special Needs

Most parents of disabled children worry about the day they won’t be around to help care for them, whatever their age.  They want to help them qualify for government (state or federal) assistance for medical and other services, and also to provide for their recreation, clothing and other small luxuries that improve the disabled person’s quality of life.

The difficulty for these parents, is in trying to grapple with the too-hard decision of who will look-after their children after the parents have gone. Many cannot overcome this emotional-paralysis, and simply hope against hope they will live just slightly longer than their child, so that neither parent nor child ever have to deal with the situation.

The reality is that most disabled children outlive their parents, so providing for their care after the caregiver’s death is a vital issue. If the parent simply leaves money for the child, it could disqualify the child for government assistance, but still not provide properly for the child’s special needs.

A special needs trust may present a solution. A lawyer specialising in the legal needs of the elderly and disabled, can help the parents or other family members to set up a trust.  With careful planning (both legal & financial), the assets may not be taken into account by the government when assessing the child’s entitlement to assistance, but distributions from the trust are used to provide greater comfort & independence for the child.

In this way, even after the parents have died, they can continue to care for their children. This can assist children with a variety of disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, the aftermath of vehicle accidents, chronic diseases or anyone who may need a combination of government and private services to provide a good quality of life.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Estate Planning for Illness and Incapacity

Estate Planning for Illness and Incapacity

Millions of Australians live with chronic illness or disabling injury. Many more will develop progressive and degenerating diseases of the mind and body.  With so many facing life with such severe challenges, smart estate planning can make the difference between maximising control over your life or falling victim to it.

How should they plan their estate to maximise their freedom, independence & quality of life?

What impact will your chronic illness have upon your health & mobility, your capacity & cognitive functioning? How might this change over time? How do you protect yourself from its effects?

Each chronic illness, whether dementia or senility, Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or ALS, diabetes or cancer – has its own unique implications for planning. One-size-fits-all generic assumptions can be detrimental to you and your loved ones.

You should consult a lawyer who specialises in estate planning in Adelaide, preferably one with experience in dealing with the special needs of disabled & incapacitated people.

Your lawyer will discuss with you a variety of legal documents.  These may include Enduring Powers of Attorney, and how they may be tailored to address your concerns.

Other documents may include Medical Powers of Attorney (sometimes called living wills or health proxies), Advanced Directives, and Discretionary Trusts.

Your lawyer can draft legal documents to protect you in the context of your chronic illness, and to address the anticipated course of your illness.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: The End of Life Debate in Australian Estate Planning

In June 2010 the Supreme Court of South Australia Court effectively granted an elderly woman’s wish to die.

The End of Life Debate in Australian Estate Planning

The woman was in her 70s and confined to a wheelchair. She instructed her nursing home to stop giving her food and drink and the drug insulin, knowing she would die.

She clearly asserted her right to refuse to take food and medication. The Court case was instigated by the Nursing Home in which she resided, because of concerns that her carers might face prosecution for assisting in a suicide or committing other crimes if it complied with her desires.

The judgment is a first in South Australia and reflects a similar ruling in Western Australia in 2009, where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, held that Christian Rossiter be allowed to withdraw nutrition & medication, even though the undoubted consequence of this would lead to his death.

Rossiter had become a quadriplegic after a road accident, and retained full ability to understand his condition and to make reasoned choices on his own behalf. His fully functioning mind was trapped within a body which was unable to undertake any basic human functions’. Nutrition was provided to him through a tube inserted directly into his stomach.